Golf is a gentleman’s sport, once exclusively for older white men in crap trousers, the game has undergone a significant overhaul in the last decade to bring golf closer to young people from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds than ever before. Each year new faces take ownership of the sport, and naturally the culture surrounding it is following suit.
Rory McIlroy, the Northern Irishman has won four major championships (and still counting) at the age of just 28. He’s a real athlete — strong yet incredibly flexible, his diet controlled and perfected — and perhaps the epitome of the modern day golfer. And his swing, don’t get us started, it is as close as you’ll come to true beauty in any sports arena in the world.
So how does McIlroy start his day?
“I’ll usually wake up around 6:30, I’m a pretty early riser,” he says. “I’m usually pretty hungry in the morning, so I try to get breakfast straight away.” That consists of Greek yogurt topped with berries, alongside poached eggs and whole wheat toast. “I try to eat as healthy as I can. Golf’s one of these sports where you don’t have to be the biggest, but you do need a certain level of strength. I’m fueling my body for what it needs to do, and no more than that.”
Growing up in the 1990s in Hollywood (no, not that Hollywood), County Down in Northern Ireland, Rory’s dad would bring him out to the driving range in the early morning, placing his stroller behind the practice tee while he hit balls before his transfixed toddler. “Starting your day off the right way is very important. My dad was always like that too, and he always said it was the best part of the day,” he explains. “If you can get a lot of your good work done before lunchtime, I feel like you’re so much more productive throughout the rest of the day.”
Over breakfast he watches a bit of TV (Good Morning Britain in the UK, the Today Show in the States) with his wife, before hitting the gym for a lengthy one-and-a-half-hour high-intensity workout. “I’m doing a lot of work on core muscles and explosive strength exercises. Golf is very much a one-movement sport, so you just try to replicate that in the gym.”
The gym, he says, is plays a bigger role than ever before in the development of the sport and the individuals thats play it. “Golf is becoming younger. It’s becoming more of a younger man’s game. The way guys swing at it nowadays, you need to be in the gym — you need to keep your body healthy and strong.”
After the gym he heads home before hitting the golf course to practice his game. “I’ll head back and maybe I’ll have a little snack before I go again, but I try to have a big enough breakfast that keeps me going throughout the day. I don’t feel like I have to eat a lot at lunch or dinner to keep me going,” he says. “So then I’ll go to the course and practice for the rest of the morning, on whatever I feel I need to work on for my game. Then I’ll have lunch (usually a bed of rice with chicken or fish and vegetables) and play again in the afternoon.”